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The News Literacy Project Adds Four New School Partners in New York

The News Literacy Project (NLP) is gearing up for a landmark school year in New York City, more than doubling its roster of educational partners as it expands the program’s reach and impact into a broad array of learning environments.

For the 2011-12 school year, NLP is adding four high schools to its program: Bronx Academy of Letters and The Cinema School, both in the Bronx; Cristo Rey New York High School in East Harlem, and KIPP NYC College Prep in West Harlem.

NLP will also continue its partnership with the Facing History School and the School for Global Leaders, both in Manhattan. Facing History is a high school and Global Leaders a middle school.

The project worked with three schools in New York in the 2010-11 school year and two the previous year. It plans to dramatically expand participation in the city under a three-year grant from the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

The four new schools represent a mix of public, parochial and charter schools, all with extremely high academic standards and diverse student bodies.

The Cinema School and Bronx Academy of Letters, both public schools, are introducing elective courses with a focus on news literacy, drawing heavily on NLP’s original curriculum. The schools share a similar philosophy but take different approaches. The Cinema School offers a liberal arts curriculum grounded in filmmaking, while Bronx Letters’ curriculum focuses on clear and effective writing. Educators at both schools say NLP will have a critical role in enabling their students to make sense of world events.

“Storytelling and critical literacies — the ability to read the world and understand the narratives being crafted in all media — are core dispositions needed for the filmmaker’s mind," Cinema School Principal Rex Bobbish said of his decision to partner with NLP.

"The emphasis on news and media literacy throughout the NLP curriculum will be a strong tool in assisting us in not only developing the filmmaker’s habits of mind in our students, but it will also instill critical-thinking skills in our students that will help prepare them for success in college, success in aspirational professions, and success as citizens in an increasingly complex world,” he said.

Teacher Jaclyn Spencer, who will be introducing the NLP unit at the Bronx Academy of Letters, said the project would add a new dimension for her students.

"I’m interested in teaching students not just what’s going on in the world, but helping them sift through all the information out there, so they can analyze it — identify the story behind the information and where it’s coming from," said Spencer, who will be teaching a new semester-long elective in Current Events and News Literacy that will draw heavily on NLP’s curriculum. "NLP provides that missing element."

At KIPP NYC College Prep, students will work on an in-depth reporting project as part of an after-school program. The school is part of a nationwide network of 99 Knowledge Is Power Program nonprofit charter schools that aspire to "graduate students with the strength of character and academic abilities needed to succeed in life."

"We’re excited to partner with the News Literacy Project to expand our students’ cultural capital and broaden their worldview," said KIPP NYC’s principal, Natalie Webb."At the core of our mission is the idea that our students grow up to become knowledgeable agents of change within their community and the broader world. The News Literacy Project certainly helps in this aim.”

Cristo Rey, a low-cost Catholic college preparatory school in East Harlem where students offset the cost of tuition by working at entry-level administrative jobs at businesses across the city, plans to fold the NLP curriculum into a new course for seniors, the Senior Writing Seminar. The course aims to enhance the students’ readiness to write college-level analytical essays and to continue to teach them how to be critical consumers of news media and other information. The latter aim is part of the school’s overall mission to foster students’ development as professionals in the workforce.

"Our administration is very excited that we have been invited to participate in this project," said Fr. Joseph P. Parkes, S.J., Cristo Rey New York’s president. "It is an honor to be associated with such an outstanding organization. I am fully confident that our students will reap great benefits from their interaction with the journalists who will be working with them."

For more information on these schools and NLP’s other partners, click here.